Patterico's Pontifications

3/12/2019

Newsom Plans to Suspend Death Penalty in California

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:02 pm



He has a pen and a phone.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is suspending the death penalty in California, calling it discriminatory and immoral and granting reprieves to the 737 condemned inmates on the nation’s largest Death Row.

“I do not believe that a civilized society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people,” Newsom said in a statement accompanying an executive order, to be issued Wednesday, declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in the state. “The death penalty is inconsistent with our bedrock values and strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a Californian.”

He plans to order an immediate shutdown of the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison, where the last execution was carried out in 2006. Newsom is also withdrawing California’s recently revised procedures for executions by lethal injection, ending — at least for now — the struggle by prison officials for more than a decade to devise procedures that would pass muster in federal court by minimizing the risk of a botched and painful execution.

I don’t know whether he can do this legally, but he’s going to try.

Add it to the parade of laws that are allowing murderers to walk out the door and other weakening of public safety.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

77 Responses to “Newsom Plans to Suspend Death Penalty in California”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. I don’t recall this coming up during the campaign. Why was he hiding his plans?

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  3. Justices Bird, Cruz and Reynoso could not be reached for comment.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  4. Is this enough to recall him?

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  5. Stay optimistic. George Ryan did the same thing in Illinois and then went to prison for five years.

    nk (dbc370)

  6. Just heard this on the evening news; and what does this cost the state taxpayers/year to house, feed, medicate, guard and clothe the reprieved condemned for the rest of their lives?!? What did it cost to keep Manson caged for decades? Surely this will be challenged in the courts.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  7. I’m changing the word in the title from “end” to “suspend” but I don’t know what it means.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  8. Pretty Boy Government.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  9. “Suspend” is the way lefties end things. Probably never see it again.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  10. He’s challenging Roe v. Wade?

    Munroe (95befa)

  11. @9. Is ‘suspend’ for Newsom like ‘acting’ is to Trump department appointees?

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  12. If the last execution was in 2006, then it was already effectively suspended. But I think Newsom can only reprieve those already sentenced. There is nothing to stop a defendant being sentenced to death in a current case. At best Newsom could only reprieve him after sentencing.
    You would need the legislature to actually end it permanently. Or a ballot initiative.

    what does this cost the state taxpayers/year to house, feed, medicate, guard and clothe the reprieved condemned for the rest of their lives?!

    I know it used to be claimed that the amount of money used to jail a defendant for life was less than the amount spent on the years of legal wrangling that precede actual execution. But I don’t know if that was true then. Nor do I know if it is true now.

    Kishnevi (082931)

  13. It is circumventing the legislature by shutting down the death chamber.

    What will worry me is if these inmates become eligible for parole now.

    AZ Bob (885937)

  14. Unaffected by this decision is one Edwin Ramos, triple murderer illegal immigrant who was shielded by San Fran’s sanctuary policy, and also by a city district attorney who refused to seek the death penalty.

    SF mayor: Gavin Newsom
    SF DA: Kamala Harris

    https://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Edwin-Ramos-won-t-face-death-penalty-3218429.php
    https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Family-blames-sanctuary-policy-in-3-slayings-3272118.php

    Munroe (c4c0ab)

  15. Is he commuting the sentences?

    Does the “Effective Death Penalty Act” limit a state’s ability to do this?

    The People have voted FOR the death penalty every time asked, including just recently. How does he justify his rejection of their votes? Is he God or something?

    I left the state in 2018 and as yet have not seen a reason to return and many reasons to be glad I left. Is this part of some plan?

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  16. It is circumventing the legislature by shutting down the death chamber.

    Not to mention several votes by the people and the US Congress. I wonder if the various chiefs of police are on board with this. I’d bet the rank-and-file officer is not.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  17. Let’s recap:

    1972: CA Supreme Court strikes down CA death penalty law, commuting all death sentences.
    1972: US Supreme Court strikes down all death penalty laws, commutes all death sentences nationally.
    1972: California voters approve Prop 17, reinstating death penalty in CA, CA SUpremes fail to strike it down.
    1992: Death penalty resumes in CA after US Supreme Court revisits issue.
    2012: Prop 34, aiming to repeal Prop 17, fails 71-29
    2016: Prop 62, aiming to end death penalty in CA fails 53-47
    2019: New Governor, having NOT campaigned on the issue, surprises everyone by killing death penalty unilaterally.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  18. Does the “Effective Death Penalty Act” limit a state’s ability to do this?

    No. That only limits the federal post-conviction relief a condemned person can petition for after he’s exhausted direct appeals and state remedies. And the Seventh Circuit has held that the federal relief is not moot even if the state has abolished the death penalty in the interim. So prisoners formerly on death row can still challenge their convictions, their sentences, and the conditions of their confinement even though they’re no longer subject to the death penalty.

    nk (dbc370)

  19. So we cant make it a rollerball contest, fight to the death.

    Narciso (d735f1)

  20. Oh, yes, Forgot.

    2016: Prop 66, to speed up executions, passed 51-49 and was upheld by the CA Supreme Court

    According to the LA Times, no sentence of conviction has been altered, this is just issuing temporary reprieves, and notes:

    The action runs counter to the expressed will of California voters, who over the last six years rejected two statewide ballot measures to repeal the death penalty and favored fast-tracking the appeals process.

    https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-governor-gavin-newsom-death-penalty-moratorium-20190312-story.html

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  21. Even Texas gives the governor plenary power to grant temporary reprieves, I believe for thirty days. I remember that the Virginia governor was obliged to pardon felons individually and not en masse. And, of course, the President’s pardon power is unlimited for federal crimes. You Californians can look up what your constitution says about it.

    nk (dbc370)

  22. yes, nk, I had already look that up. There is a CA initiative (Prop 66 – 2016) that has more to say on the matter.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  23. Death penalty is only for newborns babies who are unwanted.

    But still I am a bit confused:

    – there are too many people in the world overloading the planet
    – we should stop having babies to save the planet
    – let’s kill a couple extra babies who make it past abortion
    – we need to ration healthcare
    – time for death panels and euthanasia to increase again

    … but let’s save the murderers on death row!!!! Can someone help me out with Democratic Party platform? I’m struggling a bit.

    PS- Bonus: if we don’t reinstate net neutrality, people will die!!!! (h/t to Remy) … Still confused on when it’s okay for people to die though with this platform …

    PrincetonAl (41378a)

  24. I always ask myself if THIS would be the cause that got people to stop blindly voting for Democrats in CA. And I am always disappointed. Yet logic suggests that there IS a line that cannot be crossed, and issues of law&order are always red meat for the electorate.

    If only there was a viable opposition party that actually tried to win elections.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  25. Because the death penalty was reinstated by initiative (post #17 for history), only the voters can repeal the death penalty. As the California Supreme has ruled, the purpose of this limitation on legislative power is to “preclude the Legislature from undoing what the people have done.” Newsom is restricted to granting temporary reprieves (for as long as he is in office) to block an execution.

    Next, Newsom can commute death sentences, but only for those death row inmates who have less than two prior felony convictions. California law requires the California Supreme Court give approval for any pardons and sentence commutations for twice-convicted felons, and in 2018 the court reversed a number of pardons granted by Jerry Brown as being an “abuse of power.”

    In the duplicitous category, there is this quote from Newsom: “Newsom has been a longtime opponent of the death penalty. While campaigning for a measure to repeal the death penalty in 2016, he told The Modesto Bee editorial board he would “be accountable to the will of the voters,” if he were elected governor.

    “I would not get my personal opinions in the way of the public’s right to make a determination of where they want to take us” on the death penalty, he said.” https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article227489844.htm

    Pete (3aedd6)

  26. Wish he’d ‘suspend’ something a little more practical for ‘Californians’- like the silly ban on plastic and paper grocery bags.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  27. How much did it cost annually to Californians to house, feed, clothe, medicate and guard Manson for 40-plus years or so…

    Such a stupid idea to suspend this.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  28. @19. Yes we ‘Caan.’

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  29. They could save a LOT of money by lining up all the Death Row inmates who have been there for 20 years and shoot them. The courts might have a hissy fit, but the next judicial election would fix that.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  30. Pete, that link has gone 404.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  31. democrats prefer calling them re-education camps to deal with conservatives who are deemed enemies of the people. though trump as recently tried to co-op the term. anyway aoc prefers the term post natal abortions.

    lany (0fd186)

  32. @29 democrats could save a lot of money by lining up conservatives and shooting them. be careful what you wish for. remember liberals think more of death row inmates then they think of conservatives.

    lany (0fd186)

  33. R.I.P. Hal Blaine, drummer who played on pretty much every hit single recorded in Hollywood in the 1960’s

    Icy (982821)

  34. 32… ask them to increase the Thorazine, your paranoid delusions are stinking the place up.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  35. Conservatives not only have all the guns, we are also the only ones who were trained on how to shoot them accurately by the NRA. And we smear the bullets with GMOs.

    nk (dbc370)

  36. Democrats will soon be elevating this member of MENSA to a leadership position…

    https://twitter.com/CalebJHull/status/1105533329242275841

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  37. Tina Delgado Ocasio-Frogspawn

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  38. @30 They can run cover, but they can’t hide. Good link here: https://www.modbee.com/news/state/california/article227489844.html

    Pete (3aedd6)

  39. He might have the possibility of making it impossible for the state of California to carry out the death penalty while he is Governor and for some time thereafter by shutting down and destroying the execution chamber, [although a different governor might arrange with the federal government or another state to carry it out] and he can pardon or commute the sentence of anyone near execution some condemned people, but I don’t think he can legaly abolish it.

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  40. Pete,

    Thanks for your informative commentary. Maybe I can muster the energy to write something enlightening on this, rather than virtually shrugging my shoulders as I did last night. If I do, your comments will be a good starting point.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  41. Kevin, here is a recent article that includes Newsom’s promise not to interfere with the death penalty that he made during a campaign interview with the Modesto Bee editorial board. (Here is video of the interview.)

    DRJ (15874d)

  42. I’m struggling with this.

    I’m deeply opposed to the death penalty, as a moral matter; my view is that if it’s morally wrong for me to kill someone (outside of self-defense or defense of others, which requires an *immediate threat of bodily injury or death*), then it’s morally wrong for me to band together with thirty million other people to kill someone (outside of the presence of an immediate threat of bodily injury or death).

    So as a policy matter, I’m thrilled.

    And yet i’m not so keen on an elected executive ignoring the law.

    I’d be *furious* if a Governor announced that, because of his personal moral objections to same sex marriage, he was ordering all state officials to cease issuing same sex marriage licenses.

    How is this different?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  43. Next it be a repeal of LWOP. A good many “liberals” have been wanting Life Without Parole abolished as well as the death penalty.

    DN (ebc982)

  44. @29. Rope is cheaper. And in keeping w/Newsom’s professed concern for “what strikes at the heart to be a Californian”– it’s environmentally friendly: it’s reusable.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  45. @43. I’m not.

    Kill a kid while robbing a 7/11: hang’em high.

    Besides, with the molasses pace of the legal system as it is, appeals and such, it grants them a lot of lie years on the cuff as it is they don’t deserve.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  46. ^lie years = life years

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  47. …there’s this thing called shanking that can short circuit through that morass, DCSCA. Just ask Jeffrey Dahmer.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  48. Give ‘em a choice:

    a) lethal injection
    b) a rope and a rickety stool
    c) .45 to the back of teh head
    d) Ol’ Sparky

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  49. Any of those are The Cure for what ails them.

    Colonel Haiku (14278d)

  50. 737 killers (including the man who strangled 12 year old Polly Klaas) will sleep a little easier tonight.

    Family and friends of their victims, not so much.

    harkin (09d352)

  51. When I rule the world, there will be no sentences of imprisonment longer than five years, for any crime. Whether it will be imprisonment with air, water, or food, will depend on the severity of the crime and the prior record of the prisoner.

    nk (dbc370)

  52. Doesn’t Gov Newsand have the authority to commute any sentences? That’s my first question, I thought so based on CA’s state constitution.

    Anyhoo… ya’ll probably know me solidly righty/conservative. However, I don’t believe the state should have any authority to execute anyone. Simply being… those who prosecute and administer justice are flawed humans as well. No one can say that every execution is justified… so because of that, imo, states should NOT be in the business of execution.

    Additionally, I can’t separate the idea of being anti-abortion while at the same time being for capital punishment. It’s hypocritical in the worst way.

    whembly (f68468)

  53. I know the idea of the death penalty as deterrence is scoffed at, especially in California where the death penalty was imposed but not is not used. But Kenneth Allen McDuff never killed again after he was executed. That is why deterrence works.

    DRJ (15874d)

  54. Innocents don’t deserve death, whembly, but some people are guilty, dangerous and the only way to protect people is the death penalty. The death penalty should be rare but legal.

    DRJ (15874d)

  55. What crimes do unborn babies commit beyond a reasonable doubt?

    Now being pro-abortion and against capital punishment, that is irrational.

    nk (dbc370)

  56. Additionally, I can’t separate the idea of being anti-abortion while at the same time being for capital punishment. It’s hypocritical in the worst way.

    No, it really isn’t. The death penalty is meted out only after a trial, conviction, and a series of appeals, all of which take years. That’s due process, and it’s a good thing. Abortion has none of those things, it is simply one woman and her doctor decided to deprive a fetus of its life.

    The two acts are not anywhere close to being on the same moral footing.

    Chuck Bartowski (a2c25f)

  57. > Doesn’t Gov Newsand have the authority to commute any sentences? That’s my first question, I thought so based on CA’s state constitution.

    Yes, but under many circumstances the CASCT can overrule him.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  58. 57. What’s contraictory is being a vegetarian on ethical grounds, and being for abortion.

    Sammy Finkelman (b0ece0)

  59. The farce continues:

    “On Wednesday, Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to ban the death penalty in California, a measure that would appear on the 2020 ballot if approved by the Democratic supermajorities in both chambers of the California Legislature. Newsom said he would support that effort, but offered no indication that he would rescind his moratorium on executions even if Californians voted to keep the death penalty in place.”

    California voters rejected ballot initiatives to end the death penalty in 2016 and 2012. They voted to speed up imposition of the death penalty via Prop 66 in 2016. Yet, Newsom all but says if voters reject this latest ballot measure to end the death penalty (because the Democrats have the 2/3 majority to get on the ballot) he is going to ignore that as well. In short, in Gavin Newsom’s democracy it’s his way or the highway. Gonna be a fun four years, California.

    Pete (3aedd6)

  60. #57

    Additionally, I can’t separate the idea of being anti-abortion while at the same time being for capital punishment. It’s hypocritical in the worst way.

    No, it really isn’t. The death penalty is meted out only after a trial, conviction, and a series of appeals, all of which take years. That’s due process, and it’s a good thing. Abortion has none of those things, it is simply one woman and her doctor decided to deprive a fetus of its life.

    The two acts are not anywhere close to being on the same moral footing.

    Chuck Bartowski (a2c25f) — 3/13/2019 @ 5:24 pm

    I wasn’t really equating it under the “same moral footing”…moreso understanding that we should treat all lives as precious. (must be the non-Chatholic in me)

    One can be opposed to capital punishment and at the same time be against abortions.

    The basis of my objection to capital punishment is that we don’t have a perfect (or near perfect) system that adjudicates fairly across the board to deprive a convict of his life.

    Whereas my objection to abortions is due to my beliefs that every fetus deserves every chance to live. (to the point that conservatives/pro-lifers need to do a better job in advocating for more programs to make it easier for pregnant women to give up the baby for adoptions and to advocate updating adoption laws to make it easier for these babies to find a family).

    The whole irony of this personally… is that if something horrible would to happen to my wife and kids…I can’t guarantee you that I wouldn’t lose my mind and end up in prison for vigilante justice. But, I’m sure just about everyone would say that too.

    whembly (b9d411)

  61. #55 Innocents don’t deserve death, whembly, but some people are guilty, dangerous and the only way to protect people is the death penalty. The death penalty should be rare but legal.

    DRJ (15874d) — 3/13/2019 @ 5:18 pm

    Life without the parole is a thing ya know?

    whembly (b9d411)

  62. Again, so is shanking and prison yard/mess hall justice, but withdrawing the death penalty, in a sensible state, is the gateway toward shorter sentences, early release, expungement, reclassification of felony categories. Its even worse that in CA, Newsom’s proclamation comes after measures inducing the above “reforms”.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  63. Stinking politicians! I’ll tell you, urbanleftbehind, the only thing worse than a politician is child molester.

    nk (dbc370)

  64. One can be opposed to capital punishment and at the same time be against abortions.

    I don’t disagree with that. I was objecting to your claim that being against abortion and in favor of capital punishment is hypocritical. It’s not.

    Chuck Bartowski (bc1c71)

  65. OT, but I think this is one of the best things Kevin Williamson has ever written:

    https://www.claremont.org/crb/article/austin-city-limits/

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  66. It may very well be the best thing Kevin Williamson has written but I stopped reading at this:

    The book begins with Wright and his friend Stephen Harrigan, author of The Gates of the Alamo (2000), riding their bicycles

    nk (dbc370)

  67. …its Austin, nk. And what is the gallery’s opinion of Richard Linklater, who seems to mine the same tropes? The Narcos Mexico (Netflix, youll probably stop reading with that notation) DEA crew (mid-80s) looks like the 3rd movie out from Dazed and Confused — an awful college baseball movie was said to be the 2nd installment and based on chronology, probably the story of one of the Pony League baseball game kids in Dazed going to college to play ball.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  68. I have Netflix. I watch very little of it. For example, I tried watching Monty Python’s Best Bits (Mostly) last night and clicked out with disgust after the second “bit”, because half was commentary by some B-lister why it was their favorite bit.

    nk (dbc370)

  69. don winslow’s whose on a pronounced orange man bad streak, thinks guzman loera, was just the showboat like gotti who drew too much attention, to the business, like in breaking bad, the real players are in the shadows, sr. zambada like gian carlo Esposito’s wily Chilean?

    narciso (d1f714)

  70. Watched “Triple Frontier” on Netflix last night, it was pretty good. I could even stomach Ben Affleck.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  71. 67… that’s a shame. Sarcasm is in the eye of the beholder.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  72. I found Wright’s “The Twin Towers” to be thoroughly engrossing, but sounds like that’s in the distant past. This is more about Texas and Wright’s inability to understand it, his ignorance, his open contempt for it.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  73. Ok, ok, you should have said that in the first place.

    nk (dbc370)

  74. “Wright doesn’t live in Texas—he lives in Austin, the world capital of extended adolescence. Wright’s ruminations on Texas are those belonging to a familiar kind of permanent teenage holden-caulfieldism associated with that city.”

    That’s some good stuff…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  75. @29 democrats could save a lot of money by lining up conservatives and shooting them.

    Remember, conservatives own all the guns.

    Kevin M (21ca15)


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